Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

That Master Key!

Monday, September 19th, 2016

For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart! Hebrews 4:12

I see more and more in Holy Scripture, a perfect adaptability to the various ills of mankind.

A friend went into one of our lock factories, and he was shown upwards of a hundred locks. He was told that none of the keys would open any of the locks, except the particular one for which it was made.

But then a master-key was shown to him, and this would open any of the hundred locks.

I believe Holy Scripture is like that master-key! There are myriads of human hearts, with various sins, temptations, sorrows, cares, and fears–but the Bible is fitted alike to each and all. It points out the remedy for every form of misery and evil–it leaves no heart and no trouble without some balm suited for its need.

Holy Scripture is our Father’s love letter to His redeemed children. We may trace the handwriting. The spirit of truth, holiness, and love is seen all through. We mark that He knows and provides for the needs of every one in His large family. There are warnings to caution us against every form of sin, however subtle. There is consolation provided for every one of the manifold varieties of human woe.

Pain and suffering, anxieties about the future, disappointments, losses, bereavements–not one of these evils, or any other… we find some appropriate solace, some heavenly promise, that can lift the heart of the believer above it. Who could so completely have provided for every need–but He who made man and knows the hearts of those whom He has made?

~George Everard, “Strong and Free, A Book for Young Men” 1882

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Is Uncertainty Getting to You?

Monday, July 11th, 2016

I’m absolutely sure about today’s word-of-the-week…

UNCERTAINTY

We need to embrace uncertainty.

We want our answers in neat little packages. Most of the time, truth can’t be reduced to a 10-word slogan. Real solutions can’t be captured in 30-second sound bites.

As followers of Jesus, of course we believe in certain absolute truths. We should state those clearly, but we also know there’s a great deal of mystery. God asks us to dream and wonder. Rather than living in a predictable box, He challenges us to think and explore and consider big ideas.

Big ideas involve nuance. They invite questions, investigation, and discussion aimed at learning and growth. Authentic learning is long-term and often painful, but the alternative is hiding from truth behind safe, comfortable platitudes. Fear invites us to grab the simplistic answer, but tough questions rarely come with sound-bite answers that actually work.

Jesus had a lot of time on Earth. He could have dictated a list of clear answers to all of the important questions. Might have been easier, for sure.

Instead, He lived a life of relationships, sacrifice, and love. Then He said, “Follow Me.”

Following Jesus means listening, wondering, seeking. Once we believe we’ve discovered easy answers, or begin following leaders who offer them, we’ve likely wandered off the path.

We’d like our future to be predictable. It isn’t.

We’d like to change someone else. We can’t.

We’d like to know why. We don’t.

We’d like God to validate our notion of justice. He won’t.

God’s in control. THAT’S the assurance upon which we rely.

It’s Monday. Perhaps this is a good day to stop trying to manage a steering wheel we never controlled anyway.

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Breaking Away from Our Past

Monday, May 16th, 2016

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!” Philippians 3:13-14

We have here Paul’s wise theory of life–progress by forgetting, by letting go of the things that are past.

“Forgetting what is behind.” Probably most of us have done things we would much like . . .
to leave behind,
to blot out from memory,
to cut altogether loose from,
to bury in oblivion.

We cannot turn back the hands of the clock, that we may have any day over again. But we may bring to God all the mistakes, the follies, the sins–and He will forgive us, and then use even these poor broken things for good.

A traveler tells of finding a place beside the sea, where many ships were dashed upon the rocks–and a beautiful house built altogether from pieces of wreckage gathered from the shore.

That is about the best many of us can do. We have little else to bring to God but wreckage–disobediences, broken commandments, mistakes, sins. Yet it is a wonderful thought that even with such materials, if we are truly penitent and repentant–our Master will work, helping us to build beauty in our lives. Sins forgiven become lessons for us. Out of a past full of failures, we may make a future full of strength and beauty–through the grace of Christ. We cannot forget our sins, but we may be wiser and better for them.

~ J.R. Miller

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In Search of Rest?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

“But the dove could find no resting place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth. So it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.” Genesis 8:9

This passage has been beautifully applied to the condition of a Christian wandering over earth in search of rest–and disappointed, returning at length to his Savior–glad to be received again into His bosom, where alone there is peace. Surely he who has been accustomed to drink at the pure fountain of spiritual joy, can never find rest for the soul in this polluted world.

How true is it, that to one whose affections have been directed to things above–earthly pleasures seem to have lost their usual relish. No prospect however beautiful–no pleasures however tantalizing can be enjoyed–without the associated presence and blessing of God. Yet when God is recognized in them, and the heart is properly affected towards Him–then do even earthly scenes acquire an additional interest.

But let the Christian lose sight for a season of his heavenly inheritance, and wander over earth’s surface in search of worldly good–how soon will he find an unsatisfying vacuity, where not even an olive leaf shall be found to greet his eye or to cheer his heart. The Christian may so far backslide, as to wish to explore anew the world which he professes to have forsaken–and God may allow him to do so. But O how soon his wing will tire, and his prospect become gloomy! Glad will he be to return and flutter around the ark, longing to be taken in, where he can once more feel himself happy and at home. And Jesus kindly extends His hand to take us in–even when we have sinfully wandered from His loving arms.

Why is it that we can be so often deceived? Have we not tried the world–and have we not been disappointed in the pursuit? Never again then let us leave the sacred ark–never again wander from our Lord.

PRAYER.
Ever blessed God, You have taught us to find our supreme felicity in You–for You are an all-sufficient portion. But O how prone are we to wander from You–to forsake “You, the fountain of living waters, and hew out cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

But away from You, how can we he happy? How soon does sadness invade our hearts, and sorrow sit upon our eye-lids! The creature cannot make us blessed. We have tried the creature–and found all on earth to be but vanity. Wander where we will–from place to place, from pleasure to pleasure–all is unsatisfying, if you O God are absent.

We are like that dove, when out of the ark, which saw itself surrounded by one wide waste of waters. How glad was she to get back within her sacred retreat! Just so, O Savior, would we gladly flee into Your loving arms. We will search no longer for happiness here below. Henceforth, let us repose on Your kind bosom. Let us feel a holy indifference to the attractions of this deceitful world. May it be our privilege to be taken at last unto that secure ark–that glorious Heaven where no storms can come, and no temptations allure our souls away from you. Amen.

(Jared Waterbury, “Meditations and Prayers” 1840)

Take Courage!

Friday, March 11th, 2016

A frustrating truth prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

SERIES


The important matters in life are a series of repeated choices.

We don’t choose to love someone and then forget it. We must repeat the choice over and over, because loving is difficult, we change, and people change.

We may forgive a horrible wrong, but we’ll likely need to forgive it again and again, perhaps daily, perhaps even hourly.

It’s easy to get discouraged. I already chose not to be controlled by that fear yesterday, and it’s back today. But that’s how it works, I think.

A series of repeated choices.

The good news is that things like love, forgiveness, and courage can become habits. If we train for them, practice them, they can get a bit easier. But in the really tough times we still have to choose them, day by day.

The REALLY good news, though, is that we’re not in it alone.

Take Courage. I Am. Don’t Be Afraid.

Jesus, I Am, puts Himself in the middle of the struggle, between the courage and the fear. I get to lean on Him.

When I mess up, that’s good to remember.

What repeated choice would you like to begin making?

How Can You Finish on Time?

Monday, March 7th, 2016

At 4:27 am, I bounced out of bed. For some of you that might be normal, but I’m not a morning person. I had to be at a meeting almost an hour from home by 7:00 am.

The night before I had my clothes ready and everything at the door that needed to go with me. I had even washed and cut the fruits and vegetables for my morning drink.

At the meeting, I couldn’t believe how wide-awake, cheerful, and humorous the members of that club were. All the early birds must flock there.

After the meeting, I had to drive to the car dealer for a regular maintenance check for my car and the state safety inspection. While I waited, I completed a Bible lesson and worked on other projects.

From there, I picked up my mail, came home, ate lunch, and did paperwork. As I did, my mind was spinning with thoughts of the take-home final exam with a deadline of September 26, an upcoming radio interview, and a speaking engagement to name a few.

Would I finish on time? Could I finish on time? Fear and worry crept in. I called a friend to ask her a question and told her about my feelings about the take-home exam and my other deadlines.

She said, “Yvonne, you can do this. You’re anointed.”

As soon as she said that, God’s peace flowed through me, and I remembered a Bible verse in which God told me not to be fearful and promised to help me. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? Why had I needlessly fretted?

When you think of all you need to do, do you become fearful or dismayed?

Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Dear God, I have so much to do today. Please help me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to allow God to strengthen and help you?

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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

That’s Not What I Expected

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Today’s word-of-the-week…

EXPECTED

That’s Not What I Expected

Interesting sermon title, huh? The pastor used an incident from David’s life to illustrate how life with God frequently takes unexpected turns.

Good point. If you’re anything like me, you can look back and see lots of things that turned out a good deal differently than you figured they would. Many turned out much better than we could have imagined. Some were just different, maybe something we wouldn’t have thought of. And some, well, some were pretty tough.

The title of the sermon got me thinking about Jesus. Once in a while I get the chance to explain Jesus to someone–not the political Jesus or the do’s and don’t’s Jesus or the prosperity Jesus or any of the other versions of Jesus people make up, but the just the basics Jesus. And when you tell someone His message is as simple as “Believe in me and you’re forgiven” the response is nearly always something like:

That’s Not What I Expected

If you think about it, Jesus was a surprise from the beginning. The religious folks of His day anticipated a Messiah, but what they got wasn’t at all what they expected.

He’s still surprising us.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Whose Choice Is It?

Monday, February 29th, 2016

A favorite quote inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

MENU

Monday“It’s always easier to order off the menu.” ~ Seth Godin

Let someone else decide what choices are available–and acceptable–and choose from their list. Much less risk. Just sit in the chairs somebody else already set up.

Jesus advised us to toss out man-made menus. He said we’re free to listen to our hearts and follow our own God-inspired dreams. He said we’re free to arrange the chairs differently, or to sit on the floor if that’s what it takes to follow Him.

Takes courage. It’s risky. Harder than ordering off someone else’s menu.

Is it supposed to be about safe and easy?

It’s Monday! Might be a good day to set aside the menu and follow my own dream.

Where have you chosen the easy route of accepting the choices on the menu?

From Pieces to Something Beautiful

Monday, February 1st, 2016

My doorbell rang, and I dashed to the door. The garage door technician arrived with my new garage door.

I stared at his pickup truck and asked, “Where’s the garage door?”

“On the floor of the truck in boxes.”

On my tiptoes, I looked into the truck and saw the boxes. I could hardly wait for him to tear down the old garage door and install the new one. Have you ever experienced that anticipation over something new?

Like a child waiting for a present, I opened my kitchen door every forty-five minutes or so to check the technician’s progress.

I cheered when he removed the old door. He said, “Besides being noisy, the door had two cracks in it. It wouldn’t have lasted much longer.”

I swept my hand across my forehead. “I’m relieved I had the door removed before serious trouble occurred.”

When I saw the beautiful new door in place, a smile spread across my face.

Next the technician mounted the light, the keypad, and other wonderful features.

As I looked at the pile of pieces from the old door and admired the new one, I thought of how God takes the pieces of our broken lives and makes us beautiful through his Son Jesus Christ.

Have you experienced that new creation?

2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Dear God, I don’t want a life full of broken pieces. Amen.

Application: What day this week will you allow God to make you a new creation?

A Lesson Learned from Actors

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Life is determined by what we rehearse.

An actor reads the lines once and they’re words on a page. Great actors rehearse until they become the character represented by the words.

One person looks at a long bike ride and says, “I could never do that.” He practices that speech enough times until it becomes part of his identity. He’s the person who could never do a long bike ride. Doesn’t matter if he really could, or even if he wants to. He’s rehearsed himself into being the guy who knows he can’t do it.

Another says, “I wonder if I could do that.” The wonder leads to questions and choices. Whatever the decision, this is the person who decided about the ride.

See the difference? One rehearses I can’t; the other I wonder if I could.

I think we rehearse all sorts of things, but today I’m focused on fear and courage.

I’m afraid confronts the fear, names it, allows me to lean on Jesus and move forward. I’m afraid is an act of courage, a way of not allowing fear to control me.

Rehearsing the fear is different. Rehearsing makes fear part of me and gives me an excuse to avoid moving forward.

One incidence of courage…nice. Repeat it a few dozen times, and courage becomes a way of life.

I find some aspects of life terribly frightening. I really don’t want to rehearse those fears, and I’m grateful I don’t have to get there on my own.

How about you?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com